UTMB Moody Medical Library Portraits of History: Key Figures at UTMB
in the Blocker History of Medicine Collections

Welcome to the Portraits of History: Key Figures at UTMB website. This site celebrates those who have propelled UTMB to the forefront of modern medicine. As the oldest medical school in the state, UTMB has improved healthcare for the people of Texas and around the world since 1891.

Each Thumbnail image is a clickable link, including a large image with full record.

Albert Gallatin Clopton

Albert Gallatin Clopton, MD (1828-1916)

Professor of Physiology

William Keiller

William Keiller, MD (1861–1931)

Professor of Anatomy

Seth M Morris, MD

Seth M Morris, MD (1867-1951)

Professor of Chemistry

John F Young Paine, MD

John F Young Paine, MD (1840–1912)

Professor of Obstetrics

Allen J Smith

Allen J Smith, MD (1863-1926)

Professor of Pathology

James E Thompson

James E Thompson, MD (1863–1927)

Professor of Surgery

Hamilton A. West, MD

Hamilton A. West, MD (1861–1931)

Professor of Medicine

Edward Randall, MD

Edward Randall, Sr., MD (1860-1944)

Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics

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Albert Gallatin Clopton

Albert Gallatin Clopton, MD (1828-1916) Professor of Physiology

Dr. Clopton was born in Georgia. While studying law, the Mexican War broke out and he enlisted to serve with General Zachary Taylor (1784-1850). Dr. Clopton completed his M.D. at the University of Louisiana Medical School (now Tulane University). He practiced medicine in Arkansas and Texas, however at the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Army. During his medical career, Dr. Clopton belonged to the Texas State Medical Association and in 1874 was elected its sixth president. He was known for his "flowery oratory" and, according to some of his students he graded exam papers by weighing them on a postal scale. One student even claimed to have proven this by receiving a 95 on an exceptionally long paper which detailed the construction of the Galveston jetties.


William Keiller

William Keiller, MD Professor of Anatomy

KEILLER, WILLIAM (1861–1931). William Keiller, professor of anatomy and dean of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, was born in Auchindinny, a village in Edinburghshire, Scotland, on July 4, 1861, the son of Mathewson and Hannah (Napier) Keiller. After schooling at the Montrose Academy, the Perth Academy, and the University of Edinburgh, he studied medicine with members of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Edinburgh and the faculty of Physicians and Surgeons College of Glasgow. After winning prizes for his performance as an anatomy student, Keiller received medical degrees from these two institutions in 1888. He subsequently served as an attending physician at the Edinburgh Dispensary, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, and as a lecturer in anatomy at the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine. He was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.

In 1891 he became a professor at UTMB where he taught anatomy for forty years, specializing in neuroanatomy. An extraordinary lecturer and a talented artist, Keiller astounded students with exquisite chalkboard illustrations. He introduced the formalin method of preserving bodies used for dissection, pioneered in the use of local anesthetics, and wrote a valuable monograph, Nerve Tracts of the Brain and Cord (1927). He was also a joint author of Textbook on Anatomy (1899). Keiller served as UTMB's dean from 1922 to 1926. A laboratory building on the UTMB campus is named in his honor. He was president of the Texas State Medical Association (1926) and the Texas Neurological Society (1931). He was also a member of the Galveston County Medical Society, the American Medical Association, and the International Association of Medical Museums. The Texas Surgical Society elected Keiller its first honorary fellow in 1916.

On March 6, 1883, he married Eliza A. McLaughlin. They had four children. After her death he married Jane Julia McLaughlin, on June 27, 1895; they had two children. Violet Keiller, one of the daughters, graduated from UTMB in 1914. Keiller died in Galveston on February 22, 1931.


Seth M Morris, MD

Seth Mabry Morris, MD (1867-1951) Professor of Chemistry

When he came to UTMB he primarily taught chemistry. Everyone, students as well as the medical staff, got to calling him “Old Test Tube” rather than Dr. Morris. He apparently didn’t mind.

He quickly earned that name and his reputation as the faculty’s character by doing such things as throwing erasers at students who were dosing off, and writing chemical equations on the blackboard with his right hand while simultaneously erasing them with his left. All the while trains were passing and switching outside of his lecture room in Old Red, drowning out big pieces of his lectures. Even with all of those interruptions, he never repeated himself.

It furthered his reputation as the medical school’s character when Dr. Morris brought the very first automobile to Galveston. It was a 1902 Oldsmobile, and many of the townspeople thought him to be some sort of evil witch doctor because he was able to ride around in a carriage without a horse pulling it.

And then wouldn’t you know the UTMB witch doctor, would be the one who came up with Texas’ first x-ray machine.

It took him all summer in the basement of Old Red to add the many turns of copper wire necessary to construct the massive coil. The other important component was called a Crooke’s tube, and they found one of them for sale in Philadelphia. When it was finished, the whole thing was submerged in a crock of heavy oil which acted as an insulator. That was UTMB’s first X-ray machine.

Toward the end of the summer, Dr. Morris and the head of the pharmacology department, Dr. R.R.D. Cline, took the first X-ray ever in Texas. It was a photograph of the bones in a nurse’s hand.

To show the community how much on the cutting edge of medicine UTMB was, Dr. Morris convinced a downtown department store, Fellman’s, to display that X-ray of the bones of the nurse’s hand in one of its windows. A couple of days later the police had to ask Dr. Morris to remove it. The public was so intrigued by it that the sheer numbers of them standing in front of the window to see it were seriously obstructing the sidewalk and the street.

And wouldn’t you know that the very first time the X-ray machine was used in surgery at UTMB’s hospital it was for the purpose of finding and then removing a bullet from a man’s leg. Naturally someone had shot him during an argument in a downtown bar.

Dr. Morris did most of the X-ray studies at UTMB until 1913. That was when the university opened its first X-ray department and it was headed by Dr. James E. Thompson. Dr. Morris went on to become a professor of ophthalmology. He was on the faculty until 1937, and died in 1951. He was the last of the original faculty.


John Fannin Young Paine, MD

John Fannin Young Paine, MD Professor of Obstetrics

PAINE, JOHN FANNIN YOUNG (1840–1912). John Fannin Young Paine, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and first dean of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, was born on his father's plantation near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on August 16, 1840. After preliminary education in Louisiana and Mississippi, he began medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Because of the Civil War, he transferred to the Tulane University School of Medicine, from which he graduated in 1861. He served as a Confederate surgeon at Fort Morgan (Mobile), Alabama. After the war Paine practiced in Mobile until he moved to Ennis, Texas, in 1874 or 1875. In 1876 he moved to Galveston, where he engaged in general practice and taught obstetrics and gynecology at Texas Medical College and Hospital. He served as dean of that school until it closed in 1881. Paine then moved to New Orleans and taught at Tulane but returned to Galveston in 1886 to help reorganize the Texas Medical College and Hospital. He served as dean and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at this revived school from 1888 to 1891, when he became UTMB's first dean and professor of obstetrics and gynecology. He served as dean for six years and as a professor until 1910.

Paine commanded enormous regard among students and fellow physicians, enabled, in part, by his six-foot-four-inch height and his 300 pounds. Always the Southern gentleman, "Daddy Paine" often wore a cream-colored beaver hat, an ascot tie, a Prince Albert coat, and striped trousers. Colleagues elected him the twentieth president of the Texas State Medical Association (1888–89). After the Civil War ended, Paine married Bertha Estes of Mobile. After retiring from UTMB in 1910, he moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where he died on October 2, 1912.


Edward Randall, MD

Edward Randall, Sr., MD (1860-1944) Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics

RANDALL, EDWARD, SR. (1860–1944). Edward Randall, Sr., physician and professor, was born on October 7, 1860, in Huntsville, Texas, the son of Samuel and Texana (Garrett) Randall. After his father's death in 1866, Randall's uncle, Edward Randall, a distinguished physician in Galveston, became his mentor. Randall studied at a preparatory school in Lexington, Virginia, and earned a bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University (1879) and a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania (1883). After an internship at Philadelphia Hospital, he received postgraduate training in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, and Heidelberg. He returned to Galveston in 1886 and began private practice with his uncle. Randall taught at the reorganized Texas Medical College and Hospital from 1888 to 1891. He then became professor of materia medica and therapeutics at the University of Texas Medical Branch, a position he held until 1928. He became a dominant figure in the evolution of UTMB. He served as a member of the UTMB executive committee for twenty-five years, a member of the John Sealy Hospital Board of Managers for thirty-nine years (president for thirty-two), a charter member and president of the Sealy and Smith Foundation Board of Trustees for twenty-two years, and a member of the University of Texas Board of Regents for eleven years (1929–40). Randall was especially influential in guiding the development of UTMB's clinical facilities.

He attended many private patients and was viewed by admirers as a true "Southern Gentleman." He was a member and president of the board of directors of the Rosenberg Library, a director of the News Publishing Company and the American National Insurance Company, and a vestryman of Trinity Episcopal Church in Galveston. He was elected president of the Philosophical Society of Texas in 1943. In 1889 Randall married Laura Ballinger; they were the parents of two children, Edward Randall, Jr., and Hallie. Randall died in Galveston on August 12, 1944.


Allen J. Smith

Allen J. Smith, MD (1863-1926) Professor of Pathology

Dr. Allen J. Smith had already discovered the Bacillus coeruleus (pseudomonas smithii) and had won the Medical News prize and other anatomical prizes when he arrived in Galveston in September of 1891 with his wife and two year old son. Upon being told that his chair was to be called "pathology, bacteriology, and microscopy," the young Doctor commented, "I do not mind the work suggested by such an inclusive terminology, but begged for the appearance of dignity the Chair be known as that of Pathology alone." The first professor of all subjects taught with a microscope - histology, embryology, bacteriology, parasitology, microscopic pharmacology, as well as tropical medicine, nervous and mental diseases, inorganic chemistry, and clinical pathology - was twenty-seven years old. He lectured for a time on medical jurisprudence and was dean on two different occasions.


James E Thompson, MD

James E Thompson, MD (1863–1927) Professor of Surgery

THOMPSON, JAMES EDWIN (1863–1927). James Edwin Thompson, first professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch, was born on May 21, 1863, in Norwich, England, the son of John and Mary (Molyneux) Thompson. After studies at Witton Grammar School, Owens College in Manchester, and at the Manchester School of Medicine, Thompson earned bachelor's degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of London. He received additional postgraduate surgical training in Paris and Vienna, became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (1886), and served the Manchester Hospital as resident surgeon.

In 1891 Thompson moved to the United States and became professor and first chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, remaining in that position until his death. During thirty-six years in Galveston Thompson became one of the country's most distinguished surgeons. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1902 he was vice president of the Texas Medical Association. He was a founding member and first vice president of the American College of Surgeons (1913), president and founder of the Texas Surgical Society (1915), president of the Southern Surgical Association (1920), and fellow and first vice president of the American Surgical Association (1922). In 1925 he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Baylor University. Thompson contributed more than seventy-five publications to the literature of surgery, dealing with such topics as the diagnosis and treatment of anal fistulae, hepatic cancer, appendicitis, tumors of the face and neck, cleft palate, and kidney malformations.

Thompson married Eleanor Waters Roeck of Galveston on May 16, 1896, and they became the parents of four daughters and four sons. All four sons received medical degrees from UTMB. Thompson died in Galveston on April 9, 1927.


Hamiton A. West

Hamilton A. West, MD (1849–1903) Professor of Medicine

Dr. Hamilton A. West was the second child and the oldest son of nine children born to James T. and Isabella Atchinson West, of Russell's Cave, Fayette County, Kentucky. His grandfather, Dr. Charles West, was a physician and member of the Virginia Legislature. After a common-schooled education in the country school of the nieghborhood, Dr. Hamilton West attended the largest university in the state, where he won the faculty medal for his thesis on "Thermometry of Disease". He graduated with the highest honors in his class from the Medical Department of the University of Louisville in 1872, and two years later came to Galveston Sity Hospital. He doctored Islanders for approximately twenty-five years.

As a member of the faculty of Texas Medical College and Hospital, which preceeded the Medical Department, he played a major role in the establishment of the medical school opened in 1891, he was chosen as the first professor of principles and practice of medicine and clinical medicine. Critical and analytical, and a brilliant diagnostician, Dr. West was active in the Texas State Medical Association, as many of the faculty were. Dr. West was elected secretary of that organization in 1891, a position he held for the next ten or twelve years. During these years he promoted the reorganization of the Texas State Medical Association along the lines recommended by the American Medical Association.